Friday December 21, 2012

LENOX -- A program aimed at the town’s high school students, but which is open to parents and other interested members of the community, will be held at the Lenox Memorial Middle and High School’s Duffin Theatre this afternoon at 1:50.

The goal of the assembly is to "equip students with the necessary tools to make responsible decisions" about drinking and driving as well as other situations involving safety, said Principal Michael Knybel.

The presentation will be in partnership with the Brien Center in Pittsfield, which provides mental health and substance-abuse services for Berkshire County. Leading the discussion will be Thomas Miller, program supervisor of children and adolescents at the Brien Center and a psychotherapist based in Great Barrington.

The primary topic will focus on the negative effects of alcohol and drugs, how to stay safe, and how to cope with loss during the holiday season, Knybel explained.

"But most important will be the presentation of some options to assist students if they find themselves in a situation where others are making poor decisions," the principal said.

All ninth through 12th graders will be attending as the school day’s final event prior to the start of the 10-day vacation break.

Also invited to the session is Lenox Police Chief Stephen O’Brien, Knybel said.

"We want to have him here to show a united front," the principal said.

Officer William Colvin is assigned eight hours a week as school resource officer.


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The program will include recent police data detailing the impact and losses from drunk driving incidents across the region.

"Our parents in this community need to know that we want to be proactive to equip our students to recognize dangerous decisions," Knybel said. "The underlying message is to urge them to stay safe over the holidays and know what to do if they don’t feel safe. We want to be as helpful as we can to make a positive impact on the youth of our community."

School Superintendent Edward W. Costa III said that while the assembly was planned several weeks before the Newtown, Conn., elementary-school shootings, "that now makes it more important."

"We thought that before the kids get out for the holiday break, it would be a good time to make one more push on staying away from alcohol and chemicals," Costa said.

He acknowledged that there may be "some spillover" from the Newtown massacre "because we talk with students about emotional safety, not just physical. The events of Connecticut affect every one of us differently, at different ages. I have a feeling it may come up."

To reach Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@yahoo.com or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto.